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Press Release


Emily Darrow
Are Dolly the Cloned Sheep and BT Engineered Corn Examples of Scientific Progress or a Pandora's Box of Unknown Creation?

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.-"Biotechnology: Is It the Wave of the Future?" is the topic for the second Open Forum sponsored by the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College. The forum, free and open to the public, will held be on Thursday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center. A panel of experts will examine the politics, science, economics, and ethics of genetic modification and substitution, with special attention to the food industry. A reception with the panelists will follow the forum.

Within the next decade, many kinds of vegetables, grains, fruits, trees, and fiber crops are likely to be added to the genetically altered commercial crops already approved for development and sale, such as insect-resistant potato and cotton, virus-resistant squash, and herbicide-resistant soybean. These developments are restructuring the agricultural system and threaten a major trade dispute between the United States and the European Union. "The issues surrounding biotechnology are rife with confusion," explains Joanne Fox-Przeworski, director of CEP. "They are important to clarify, though, as they have potentially wide-ranging implications for agriculture, the environment, trade, health, consumers, the world's food supply, and bioethics."

About the Panelists:

Val Giddings is vice president for food and agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington, D.C. With more than 800 members, BIO is the largest trade organization to serve the life sciences industry, operating in forty-seven states and more than twenty-six countries. BIO represents companies and institutions involved in research and development of health care, agriculture, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products. Giddings, a geneticist, was -continued- formerly the branch chief for science and policy coordination with the biotechnology products regulatory division of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and a member of the U. S. delegation that negotiated the Biodiversity Convention.

Robert W. Herdt is director of agricultural science at the Rockefeller Foundation and a specialist on trends in developing countries concerning food self-reliance, population growth, and agricultural production. An expert on Asian rice production, he has worked in the international environmental arena since the 1960s, initially with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in India. He was head economist at the International Rice Research Institute and scientific advisor to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) at the World Bank. Herdt is the coauthor of more than sixty articles and six books, the most recent analyzing the implications of the "green revolution" and the promises and pitfalls of agricultural biotechnology. His book The Rice Economy of Asia received the 1986 award for outstanding research communication from the American Agricultural Economics Association.

Margaret Mellon is director of the Agriculture and Biotechnology Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a visiting professor at Vermont Law School. A scientist and lawyer, Mellon has written about the complex problems of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. In her book, The Ecological Risks of Engineered Crops, written with Jane Rissler, she calls attention to potential consequences from the wide adoption of genetically altered plants and animals to biodiveristy, human ethics, and the survival of independent farmers. Mellon was director of the Biotechology Policy Center of the National Wildlife Foundation.

Michael Tibbitts, moderator, is a geneticist and associate professor of biology at Bard College. He is developing an undergraduate course, "Bioethics," with Daniel Berthold-Bond that will be offered at Bard in spring 2000.

The final open forum in the series, "Ethics, Justice, Democracy and the Environment: What Do We Owe Future Generations?" will be held on Thursday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m. Outstanding scholars will address some of the most pressing questions in a democracy about political order, social policy, obligations to future generations, and the environment.

Reservations are requested for the forums. Call 914-758-7071 or e-mail for further information.

The Open Forum Series is sponsored by the Center for Environmental Policy (CEP) at Bard College, as part of its commitment to make current and important environmental issues available for widespread public discussion. Through education, research, and public service, the newly created CEP addresses local and global policy issues pertaining to the natural and built environments. At the core of CEP's activities is a two-year program leading to a Master of Science in Environmental Policy, beginning autumn 2001.

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This event was last updated on 01-09-2004